It has been another extraordinary draft, and was a crazy ride along the way. In a very abbreviated review of who had the most draft selections in the 254 draft, it appears that OTC once again pinned the MadDog for the second straight year, and once again beat every single draft prognosticator in the business. Yours truly coming in second once again. OTC is the draft king. At some point, when I can reclaim some bit of time from the universe, I hope to do a complete review for my records.
Now, onto the Niners' draft review. Strap on the seatbelts, since it is not going to be pretty. By the way, draft grades at this point are arbitrary, since nobody knows how these kids will perform. So, as with any analyst, take this with a grain of salt.
First Round- Aldon Smith- C grade
Smith was the best OLB left on the board when the Niners selected. He does present a need for the team. However, the team intended on selecting a QB along the way, and missed on grabbing the best one in the draft, Blaine Gabbert. Instead, the team selected Colin Kaepernick, who may not be the best fit for the WCO.
As for Smith, he is a good straight ahead rush backer. At the same time, he is not an elite athlete, which is what you want from a guy this high on the board. Smith's shuttle numbers at the combine, which show change of direction skills, was amongst the worst for the DE class. He only pressed the bar 20 times, which is not horrible for a guy with a long wingspan, but still mediocre. Smith's long jump, which measures explosiveness, was average, and his cone time was poor.
So, while he posted good numbers at Missouri, and certainly has a big upside, the current Smith is not an elite Smith, and to me, too risky for the 7th overall. Can he be great? Maybe. But, once again, the team is not drafting in the 15th, or 20th, or 25th spot. This is the 7th overall. Just not good value.
Second Round- Colin Kaepernick- C grade
Don't get me wrong, I think Kaepernick has a chance in the NFL. He has a live arm, is very athletic for a QB, and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. The problem I have? The Niners traded up to get him, but only needed to go two more slots higher to draft the better QB, Andy Dalton, who everybody on this side of the planet knew would go to the Bengals at 35.
Kaepernick has a fairly elongated throwing motion, which is highly problematic in the WCO system, let alone any system in the NFL. The Niners will have to tighten that motion so that he can fit the ball into the window desired. I don't see Kaepernick being ready for the NFL for at least two years.
So, the Niners selected two guys with big upsides, if maximized, but guys who also have a high bust potential, in my estimation.
Third Round- Chris Culliver- C+ grade
This is not as horrific pick as many Niners' fans believe. Culliver appeared to be a reach for many, but I did project him to go in that 80th slot, and there had been some momentum for him as draft day closed in. The kid can run, posting one of the better forties at the combine. Now, can he play corner? Not sure. But, he's an upgrade over the current combination we have at safety right now, where he played for the bulk of his college career, and posted great numbers. Plus, he is a very good kickoff and punt returner (3rd in SEC history). So, he adds some special teams value.
Could be the Niners were targeting the player chosen just before their original third rounder (pick 76), guard John Moffitt of Wisconsin.
So, mini-review: The Niners selected a raw OLB prospect, a raw QB prospect, and a guy who presents good special teams value but may have switch back to safety.
Fourth Round- Kendall Hunter- A grade
Best pick of the draft for the Niners. The team needed a smaller, change of pace back and Hunter can play all three downs. Short, but able to squeeze through holes, has a good second level burst, and can pass protect, as seen in the Senior Bowl practices, where he pleased coaches and scouts. Just a solid, all around back, one that I graded the fourth best overall in this draft.
Fifth Round- Daniel Kilgore- D- grade
Kilgore was a terrific OL for Appalachian State, who showed some versatility at guard and tackle during his college days. It appears the team wants to transition him to center, and while that is a position of need, there were certainly better centers with experience at the position on the board. The kicker, the Niners traded up to get him. Bad, bad value.
Sixth Round- Ronald Johnson and Colin Jones- C- grades
Both players will struggle to make the roster in 2011, as Johnson will be competing for the 4th or 5th WR position, and may find it hard to supplant Williams and Zeigler. Jones, who I like as a player, will have to compete with a bunch of safeties, and maybe even draftee Chris Culliver. Johnson and Jones present good special teams value, as both are fast players. Johnson can return kickoffs, Jones could be a gunner. However, both non-special team positions are pretty well stocked, and I'm not sure I see much of an upgrade. In Johnson's case, the better pick was two selections later, with 3-4 DE David Carter of UCLA. Don't we need a fullback or nose tackle, or backup DE, or center with experience????
Seventh Round- Bruce Miller, Michael Person, Curtis Holcomb- F grades
If you haven't heard enough of me whining about taking college players and shifting them to a different position in the NFL, well I've got more bad news for you. Miller was an outstanding college defender who is slated to play fullback. That was news to everyone, including Miller. Person was a really good college OT being shifted to guard, and who knows with Holcomb....nose tackle. Maybe the team thinks it can throw another 140 pounds onto his 190 pound frame. Didn't we just try to convert another defender, wait for the last name....Miller... to fullback last year? Is it in the owner's guidelines that we convert a Miller every year from defense to offense? Color me confused.
Final grade- C-
In the end, it really doesn't matter what happens from the third through seventh rounds. This final grade, years down the road, will come down to Smith and Kaepernick, and the selections were simply too wildcard and risky for me.
[ Edited by MadDog49er on May 1, 2011 at 18:50:27 ]